Friday, August 18, 2006

Andrew Young Remark Unacceptable

Most who know me know that I believe self-criticism and valid constructive criticism of my own racial group is a healthy process. Thus, you should not be caught off-guard by this column criticizing former Ambassador and Mayor of Atlanta Andrew Young's comment to a black Los Angeles newspaper, where he used racially and ethnicially insentive language to refer to alleged ownership of stores in urban black communities by Jews, Koreans, and Arabs. His comment is completely unacceptable and I am pleased he found it necessary to resign his role with Wal-Mart as a chairman of a campaign to fix its image.

I just hope African American leaders will join me in condemning this remark, while still looking to Young's past great efforts on behalf of human rights for all for guidance with contemporary pressing issues.

Here's the article in the New York Times:

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Evacuations For White Americans

I got to say it. I find it very interested how the United States couldn't find the resources or manpower to safely evacuate Americans from Hurricane Katrina - residents living within the continental United States; yet our country can find immediate means to evacuate American citizens in the worn torn Middle East, where Lebanon and Israel are currently at odds. Not only do Americans, most of whom are white, get evacuated safely, but most by plane, or luxurious cruise ships amidst bombings and chaos. Yet, somehow, a natural disaster that was predicted days before it occurred in a mostly poor and black area concentrated area in the United States can not have had the same effect.

Not only that, but the national news media makes pleas for the American Secretary of State, Ms. Rice, to immediately go to the Middle East to help address the war torn countries' concerns and to ensure the safe evacuation and care of American citizens through the Embassies -- another example of American errogance which suggests we, and only we, have the power of bridge divides in other places.

Does anyone remember the national media -- Anderson Cooper perhaps beside -- making pleas for national leaders to rush to the scene in the midst of Katrina?

Oddly Bush is right, as he articulated is his first ever speech to the NAACP - conveniently after he no longer needs conservative votes for re-election - when he said, racism still exists in this country and his party shares much of the blame for its political participation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Still a Hometown Boy

Ok, I will keep this brief, because most of you aren't from Toledo and likely won't care. However, the current mayor of the city of Toledo, OH, Carty Finkbeiner, (D), a white man who unseated the city's first black mayor, Jack Ford, (D), last November, recently called the Fire Chief, a black man "King Kong" in a staff meeting. The comment leaked to the press, creating a fiasco because of Mr. Carleton Finkbeiner's previous verbal and physical blunders as the mayor from 1993-2001.

Some might know the Trivial Pursuit board game and be aware of the mayor's former comment suggesting deaf people be moved to the airport?

The Fire Chief made a plea that people not make an issue of it, saying he did not think the mayor meant anything of it. He agreed with the mayor's statement to the press that he meant the comment to refer to his strength and stature as a man.

But, to me, this is another example of blacks being complacent about implicit racial behavior of white public officials and choosing to do nothing about it. I wrote a editorial that was printed in The Blade. See the web address:

You will also notice a woman's letter on the same page whose opinions are contrary to mine on this issue, and in my opinion, her examples are irrelevant. Also, most noticeably is the Mayor's own response -- a great political answer that does not acknowledge fault for the comment.

What do you think?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Black Males in Trouble? . . . .

The March 20, 2006 article in The New York Times "Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn" is a good and bad thing. It's good because it statistically demonstrates the problems of black males in today's society on many fronts: education, employment, income, etc.

But, what's worse is the bad thing. With the NYT being an internationally read paper, it likely does more harm than good, as it may serve as a vehicle for continued discrimination, stereotypes, and stigma for our black male population in the United States.

I believe in the power of mass media, but, I guess, sometimes, I would prefer problems like these to remain "in house" and invite the media in when progress is being made, and the article can carry a serious, but more upbeat tone.

If problems begin at home, they should begin to be fixed at home -- not at major white institutions of higher education, that often times choose to increase the disconnect between their institutions and the community. These problems for the black male have been documented by non-major universities for decades, so it is nothing new (until major white university professors--yes, even people of color at such institutions like myself) begin to study the issue.

It's called applied academics. I'm excited to hear of the work being done. But, it's not new, and the article's title and content could have been more positive--yes, even given the bismal numbers.

We should be in the business of encouragement - - not discouragement.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Us and Illusions - Excellence and Ends in the Vineyard (Excerpt)

One way to avoid going out this Morning with any Illusions or delusions is deliberately paying attention to avenues of devoting distinct deference to divine difference. Paying attention means doing as Dr. King, who dared with dignity and distinction to destroy discrimination! There’s no doubt Dr. King did not let political big wigs nor his personal political opinions, ethnicity, nor his religious adherence stop him from reaching beyond his comfort zones. Obviously, Rev. King knew the truth and wisdom behind the Nigerian proverb: “Fine words do not produce food.” He knew that food was in the fields and vineyards, not in mere words.

When will we start producing food? Yeah, listening to Dr. King’s words is nice. Reading his legendary speeches is fine. Going to King commemoration services yearly in early January - that’s all very good. But, doing just that won’t produce food! Like those annoying sitcom repeats, and the even more annoying pink energizer bunny, we have got to keep going and going and going and doing and doing and doing! As Dr. King says (and I’m quoting): “We’ve got to keep on keeping on, in order to gain freedom. It would be fortunate if the people in power had sense enough to go on and give up, but they don’t do it like that. It is not done voluntarily, but it is done through the pressure that comes from people who are oppressed.”

Therefore, those of us who are unemployed, those of us who are women, those of us who are short, those of us who are ugly, those of us who are not heterosexual, those of us who are poor, those of us who are black, those of us who are Christian, those of us plagued with a disease, infirmity, or disability . . . We’ve got to stop celebrating the past and start doing in the present for the future! I’m convinced! SOMEBODY IS HEARING ECHOES OF DR. KING TODAY! SOMEBODY IN HERE WANTS SOCIAL JUSTICE TO PREVAIL! SOMEBODY WANTS TO BE ASSURED THAT EVERY VOTE IS ACCURATELY COUNTED! SOMEBODY WANTS THE CHURCH TO PAY ATTENTION TO HIS OR HER NEEDS WITHOUT HAVING TO SHOW A W2 (as if the Prophet Malachi – MINISTERS!- was only talking about monetary offerings)! SOMEBODY WANTS TO SHOUT AND NOT BE SILENCED! SOMEBODY WANTS ADEQUATE LEGAL REPRESENTATION WHEN CHARGED WITH AN OFFENSE OR A CRIME!! SOMEBODY WANTS TO GET MARRIED IN THE EYES OF GOD AND NOT THE EYES OF THE GOVERNMENT!!! DON’T GO OUT THIS MORNING WITH ANY ILLUSIONS, ‘CAUSE A LOT OF SOMEBODYS IN HERE WANT TO SING WE HAVE OVERCOME!”

Please Don’t Leave from here this Morning SOS. You know what that stands for? “Stuck on Stupid” – Don’t leave here SOS - with illusions, delusions, feigned ignorance, and misconceptions of reality. Please! for God’s and humanity’s sakes! The multiple teachings of Dr. King caution us, as do I and our scriptural readings today: to BE AWARE, to wake up, and to pay attention. We hopefully have learned from the frustration in the 1950s and 1960s of the leading white Southern ministers like Alfred Dickinson, pastor of First Baptist and John Buchanan of Southside Baptist Church in Birmingham, whose disagreements often resulted from the precarious middle ground between hard-line segregationists and liberal integrationists.

Yet, some of us today still insist on being moderate as a way toward equality and social justice. Would this town be named Providence if Roger Williams had been a compromising moderate? What about other models such as Golda Mier, Mohandas Gandhi, Jane Addams, Patrick Henry, Victoria Mxenge, Jonathan Edwards, Mary Church Terrell, and Henry David Thoreau? Claiming to be in the middle or straddling the fence accomplishes little. As 13th Century Florentine writer and poet Dante Alighieri claims about the Inferno, “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” If I’m standing on your toes - just say Ouch!